RIYADH: Md Rasooldeen
Published — Friday 3 May 2013
Last update 8 May 2013 8:23 pm
The coronavirus has killed five people and put two more patients in intensive care in the Al-Ahsa province in the Kingdom.
Confirming the casualties, Ziad Al-Memish, undersecretary to the Ministry of Health for Public Health, told Arab News yesterday that the victims were all Saudis and were discovered to be positive carriers of the disease at the same hospital in the province. The other two patients are in the intensive care unit of the hospital.
The latest fatalities bring the total number of deaths caused by the coronavirus to nine in the Kingdom. The virus, known as novel coronavirus, or NCoV, was unknown in humans until it emerged in the Middle East last year.
On Feb. 10, a Saudi woman died following 11 days of hospitalization in Riyadh. The woman had returned from abroad with symptoms of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). On Mar. 2, a 39-year-old Saudi man, who had developed symptoms of the novel coronavirus (NCoV) on Feb. 24, died, several days after being hospitalized.
In September last year, the ministry reported three cases of the virus, two of whom were Saudis while one was from Qatar. Two of the patients died in Saudi Arabia.
Prior to becoming ill, reports said the Qatari patient had traveled to Saudi Arabia. He was placed in the intensive care unit in Doha before being transferred to the UK.
The sixth death attributed to coronavirus was a patient in the UK. That man, who is one of three people in the same family with the virus, was believed to have contracted the illness from a relative.
It was the first case of human-to-human transmission of the virus in the UK.
The undersecretary stressed that there was no cause for alarm, as the ministry had already taken preventive measures to keep the disease under control.
Al-Memish assured the public that the ministry is taking all preventative measures and that samples are taken from those in close contact with the infected people to ensure their safety sticking to local and global scientific methods.
“Our focus right now is to discover the disease’s modes of transmission, as that would facilitate the implementation of preventive measures,” the deputy minister said. “We are also monitoring the virus in all parts of the Kingdom through the regional directorates of the MoH.”
Al-Memish, who is also the chairman of the National Scientific Committee for Infectious Diseases, said that only a few people had been found positive in the world.
Coronaviruses are considered one of the common agents of the common cold. Symptoms of the virus include runny nose, general feeling of illness, mild sore throat, cough, headache, low fever and chills. It can also cause respiratory, intestinal and neurological illness.
The official said most of those who are infected with coronaviruses recover completely, with no complications after receiving supportive therapy.
The Geneva-based global health agency said it doesn’t have enough information to estimate whether the new infection was the result of person-to-person contact.
Al-Memish said the Kingdom has experience in dealing with infectious diseases. An early detection of the virus would help ensure a quick recovery, he added.
The World Health Organization urged countries to consider testing for the new virus when patients present for care with unexplained pneumonias or when patients with severe, progressive or complicated respiratory illnesses don’t respond to treatment, especially if those patients have recently traveled to or have come from parts of the world where infections have occurred.